It has often been noted that the Canadiens have a certain lack of depth this season, especially with the mediocre production of some of the young or support players. Tonight, though, Jacques Martin found a solution to this depth problem by considerably shortening his bench. Matt D’Agostini played only 2:37 and Max Pacioretty registered 6:23 of ice time. In addition, Paul Mara suffered an upper body and did not play in the third period. As for those
who did play, they offered a convincing sixty minute game the likes of which we have seldom seen this season. The Canadiens played a very disciplined game, working hard in their own zone and winning many of their one-on-one battles. In fact, the Habs gave the Devils only two powerplays, committed a rather sparse 6 giveaways and kept odd-man rushes to a minimum.
However, it was on an odd-man rush that the Devils obtained their only goal. While Montreal was attacking in the New Jersey zone in the first period, Zach Parise was hiding at the red line undetected and was fed a perfect pass by Jamie Langenbrunner. He then made a little deke and beat Halak between the pads. This proved to be the only play that would beat Halak, who made several key stops and finished the game with 31 saves.
Just over 10 minutes after Parise’s marker, Benoit Pouliot, who was alone in front of Brodeur, capitalized on a nice pass from Scott Gomez and tied the game 1-1. Recently called up Mathieu Darche took the reins offensively from that point forward. Early in the second period he deflected a Gionta shot between Brodeur’s legs to give the Habs the lead. Then, as the Devils were starting to put some pressure on the Habs, he managed to win the puck behind New Jersey’s net and set-up Mike Cammalleri’s goal.
HW 3 Stars of the Night
1. Mathieu Darche: Won most of his battles, went to the net with consistency, worked hard and, most importantly, contributed on the score sheet. He deflected, albeit barely, a Brian Gionta shot in the second and scored what would prove to be the game winning goal. However, his play on the third goal is what impressed me the most. He was strong on the boards, stripped the puck away from the Devils and made a perfect pass to Andrei Markov, who then slid it over to Cammalleri.
Statline: 1 Goal, 1 Assist, +2, 2 shots, 9:49 TOI
2. Jaroslav Halak: The Slovak netminder made several key saves, especially in the third period when the Devils were buzzing around the Canadiens’ zone. In fact, during the final frame he stopped all 14 Devils’ shots.
Statline: 31 saves on 32 shots, .969 save percentage
3. Josh Gorges: To borrow from a popular Canadian broadcaster, Josh Gorges was a monster tonight. He made many tremendous blocks, especially during the penalty kill, managed to clear the puck out of his zone regularly and was a physical presence. He, with Andrei Markov, led the team in ice-time.
Statline: 0 Goals, 0 Assists, + 2, 4 Blocked Shots, 4 Hits, 22:23
Honourable mention – Brian Gionta: Gionta tried his best to get the empty net goal against his former team. While he did not score, he managed to contribute greatly. As always, Gionta leads by example, works extremely hard along the boards and seldom gets caught out of position defensively. Why exactly isn’t he wearing the ‘C’?
Statline: 0 Goals, 1 Assist, Even, 6 Shots, 20:36